What’s Hot: Typical Mercedes quality, long standard equipment list, amazingly low fuel consumption.
What’s Not: Diesel a tad coarse at low revs, sharp ride on 19”-wheels.
X-FACTOR: The most polished C-Class design thus far, improved throughout and a very decent drive.
Vehicle style: Medium luxury sedan
Price: $60,900 (C 200 petrol) to $70,400 (C 250 BlueTec diesel)
C 200 - 135kW/300Nm 2.0 petrol 4cyl | 7sp auto
C 200 BlueTec - 100kW/300Nm 1.6 diesel 4cyl | 7sp auto
C 250 - 155kW/350Nm 2.0 turbo 4cyl | 7sp auto
C 250 BlueTec - 150kW/500Nm 2.1 diesel 4cyl | 7sp auto
Fuel consumption listed:
C 200: 6.0 l/100km
C 250: 6.0 l/100km
C 250 BlueTec: 4.5 l/100km
Mercedes-Benz’s evergreen C-Class is one of the most hotly-anticipated new releases for 2014. After having driven it, we can confirm there are good things to report.
It is an enormous leap forward for the C-Class nameplate in terms of quality, and with styling cues that mimic the high-end S-Class, it’s not only easy on the eye, but surprisingly opulent inside.
It’s bigger too. The wheelbase is 80mm longer than before, overall length is increased 95mm to 4686mm, there’s 14mm more cabin width and 31mm more seat-to-roof clearance.
To give those numbers some context, the W205 C-Class’ dimensions eclipse those of the 1995-vintage W210 E-Class.
And, it's not only lighter than before - thanks to a structure that’s 48 percent aluminium - there are more standard features and technologies.
LED headlamps, a digital radio tuner, anti-collision auto-braking and front electric seats are now standard on every model - packing $10,000 of extra standard equipment into the base C 200 if you believe Mercedes.
Higher-end gear like a head-up display, touchpad controller and air-suspension are also available on the C-Class range for the first time, but as cost options.
All of this new technology comes at a price, however, and, with the base model C 200 petrol retailing for $60,900, the price of entry has risen by $1000.
We drove the base C 200 petrol as well as the mid-grade C 250 diesel and petrol variants. For the previous W204 generation these provided 90 percent of C-Class sales volume, and Mercedes expects that trend to continue with the new W205.
The upcoming C 63 AMG (which launches in the first quarter of next year) might be sexier, but the C 200 and C 250 are far more important to Benz’s bottom line. Here’s how they measure up.
- Key standard features: power front seats, LED headlamps, power folding wing mirrors, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, speed limiter, dusk-sensing headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, keyless ignition.
- Infotainment: Sat nav, 7-inch LCD display, touchpad controller, AM/FM/DAB+ tuner, 2 USB audio inputs, Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming.
- C 250 adds: genuine leather upholstery, 19-inch alloys, keyless entry, Driver Assistance Package
- Luggage capacity: 480 litres (seats up).
It might be the most affordable RWD Mercedes sedan, but the new C-Class boasts an interior that feels almost as opulent as the marque's flagship S-Class.
The round air vents are almost identical to those of the S-Class, and the sloping centre-stack and touchpad controls for the infotainment system are also borrowed from the C-Class' ultra-premium brother.
You can even option a base model C-Class with Benz’s 'air-balance' feature, which perfumes the air with a fragrance of your choice. At last, you can ditch that cardboard pine tree.
We have to admit that the standard piano black dash and door trim is fairly plain, but if you opt for the optional AMG Line package ($4490 for C 200 variants, $3490 for C 250s), it’s replaced with black ash wood veneer.
The Exclusive package ($1990) brings light-brown wood trim in either gloss or an unvarnished finish, and both the AMG and Exclusive packages also see the dash and upper door trims upholstered in artificial leather.
It’s all very classy, and if you’ve grown used to the clean-but-unexciting cockpit of the outgoing W204 C-Class, you’ll likely be blown away by the presentation of the W205.
You’ll also likely be impressed by just how much more spacious it feels inside. The W205 uses an all-new platform that liberates more cabin volume, the result being a rear seat that’s more than comfortable enough for long journeys.
Rear knee, head and shoulder room is ample; there’s a fold-down centre armrest and rear face-level air ducts as well.
All up, that longer wheelbase liberates 26mm of additional rear legroom according to Mercedes, but it feels like much more. Compared to the old car, there’s lots more sprawling space in the new C-Class.
The front seats meanwhile offer plenty of room, and the sloping centre stack and revised infotainment controls put all the vital controls within easy reach.
However, if you’re used to the button layout of the outgoing C-Class, be prepared for some initial finger-fumbling in the new one.
Many key switches are located far apart, and the layout takes some getting used to.
Lastly, it's not just passengers who get to enjoy some extra room.
At 480 litres with the 40/20/40 split rear seatbacks raised, the new C-Class has more cargo capacity than its predecessor, thanks mainly to the increased overall length of the car.
ON THE ROAD
- C 200 - 135kW/300Nm 2.0 turbo petrol 4cyl
- C 200 BlueTec - 100kW/300Nm 1.6 turbo diesel 4cyl
- C 250 - 155kW/350Nm 2.0 turbo petrol 4cyl
- C 250 BlueTec - 150kW/500Nm 2.1 turbo diesel 4cyl
- 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, RWD
- Multi-link front and rear suspension, air suspension optional ($2490)
- Ventilated disc brakes
We started our drive in the C 250 BlueTec diesel, taking it on a short loop that encompassed some easy cruising at highway speed as well as a spirited mountain run.
With 150kW and 500Nm coming from its 2.1 litre turbodiesel, the C 250 BlueTec is able to lope along at 100km/h with consummate ease. Overtaking is also relaxed, thanks to all of that torque being available from just 1600rpm.
However peak torque starts to tail off rapidly from 2000rpm, and the C250 BlueTec isn’t necessarily faster when more revs are applied. Thankfully the standard seven-speed automatic has the ratio spread to make the best use of the engine’s narrow torque band.
Moving onto the C 250, we found it to be happier to rev, but not necessarily quicker than its diesel counterpart.
And Mercedes-Benz’s claimed performance stats back up our seat-of-the-pants analysis, with both the diesel and petrol C 250 models accelerating to 100km/h in an identical 6.6 seconds.
The petrol is definitely smoother and quieter than the diesel though. In the BlueTec, there’s more than a hint of a gravelly diesel engine note filtering through the firewall, along with a small amount of vibration at idle.
The C 250 BlueTec trumps the C 250 petrol for fuel consumption though, sipping just 4.5 l/100km on the combined cycle against the latter’s 6.0 l/100km.
If past trends are anything to go by the C 200 petrol will be the volume-seller, and buyers won’t be disappointed by its performance. The 0-100km/h sprint is done away with in a still-brisk 7.3 seconds, and fuel consumption is the same as the C 250 at 6.0 l/100km.
If you haven't driven a 'modern European' in a while, you will be amazed by the seemingly effortless power these relatively-small modern engines produce.
But no matter what powertrain you go for, there’s one constant: Benz’s finely-calibrated 7G-tronic seven-speed automatic gearbox.
It anticipates demands for more power and shifts gears accordingly. Though there are steering wheel-mounted paddles to play with, the occasions where you’d actually need them will be rare.
One area that may cause some angst is the suspension. It’s definitely firmer than it was before, and we experienced a slightly fussy ride over minor road imperfections and small, sharp bumps.
That said, the C 200 we drove were equipped with the optional AMG package, which replaces the standard 18-inch wheels with 19-inchers.
19-inch alloys are standard on the C 250 models too, but a short spin in a stock-standard C 200 with 18-inch wheels revealed a suspension that was a lot more relaxed and comfortable.
Definitely something to keep in mind if you value a smooth ride.
We also sampled the optional Airmatic air-suspension, which seeks to deliver both comfort and performance in equal measure.
With the drive mode selector in Comfort or Eco mode, the suspension is soft and supple, while the Sport and Sport+ settings wind up the stiffness and reduce bodyroll markedly.
It works well as a performance-oriented option, but we’re not so sure about the comfort side of the equation. It’s certainly softer than the standard steel springs, but it doesn’t quite feel as settled over sharp bumps.
The steering has also been changed for the W205 generation C-Class, with a variable-mode electric power steering system now standard.
It delivers decent feel and the new multi-link front end (which replaces the W204’s MacPherson strut arrangement) hooks into corners crisply, though it’s not all that rich in feedback.
That’s not really a big deal on a C 200 or C 250 though, and overall the new C-Class delivers a stellar driving experience.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Chief rivals include the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Lexus IS, with the 3-Series currently slightly ahead of the C-Class in sales year-to-date.
Will the arrival of a fresh new C-Class reverse that? Mercedes Australia certainly hopes so.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
We were expecting it to be good, but this new C-Class is very good.
Even for a brand like Mercedes-Benz, where the expectations will always be high, the new C-Class feels incredibly high-end even at the C 200 entry-level.
This new model sets the bar for other premium marques, and, though it competes in a fiercely contested category, right now we can't think of another luxury car with quite the visual sparkle and premium feel of the C-Class.
We’re looking forward to it. Better still, why not see for yourself?
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- C 200 $60,900
- C 200 Bluetec $62,400
- C 250 $68,900
- C 250 Bluetec $70,400
- C 300 Bluetec Hybrid $74,900